NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government may sound positive about passage of the bill to introduce the goods and services tax in the second part of the budget session of Parliament.
However, the arithmetic in the Upper House shows that the BJP led National Democratic Alliance won’t be able to get the 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill passed without support from the opposition Congress party even after August, by when 30% of the seats will be filled with new members.
The Congress has once again made it clear that it will not support the proposed legislation in its present form, sticking firmly to its demand for three changes. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala reiterated the party’s stand on Wednesday and clarified that the government had not reached out since Parliament went into a recess on March 16. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu maintains the GST bill will be passed in the second half of budget session even as other ministers are not so confident.
A Constitutional amendment bill has to be passed with a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in both Houses of Parliament separately and must win approval from half the state assemblies.
Although the NDA’s presence in the Upper House will improve with the entry of 75 members in August – including seven nominated members – the arithmetic for the government will still not change significantly. The BJP’s strength in the 245-member Rajya Sabha currently is 47. The party and its allies together control 64 seats. Irrespective of the number of seats it wins, BJP will still fall short of the two-thirds figure of 163.